In a continent on the edge of war, two witches hold its fate in their hands.
Young witches Safiya and Iseult have a habit of finding trouble. After clashing with a powerful Guildmaster and his ruthless Bloodwitch bodyguard, the friends are forced to flee their home.
Safi must avoid capture at all costs as she’s a rare Truthwitch, able to discern truth from lies. Many would kill for her magic, so Safi must keep it hidden – lest she be used in the struggle between empires. And Iseult’s true powers are hidden even from herself.
In a chance encounter at Court, Safi meets Prince Merik and makes him a reluctant ally. However, his help may not slow down the Bloodwitch now hot on the girls’ heels. All Safi and Iseult want is their freedom, but danger lies ahead. With war coming, treaties breaking and a magical contagion sweeping the land, the friends will have to fight emperors and mercenaries alike. For some will stop at nothing to get their hands on a Truthwitch.
“Safi acted instantly – as did the monk. His sword swished from its scabbard; her knife came up. She clipped the edge of his blade, parrying it aside.
He recovered and lunged. Safi lurched back. Her calves hit Iseult, yet in a single fluid movement, Iseult kneeled – and Safi rolled sideways over her back.
Initiate. Complete. It was how the girls fought. How they lived.
He was good. The best fighter she’d ever faced.
But Safi and Iseult were better.”
This book, to put it simply, is wildly entertaining. I enjoyed the HELL out of it.
Honestly, I don’t even know where to begin here. Do I start with the setting? Which is loosely based on our own geography, cultures and people, but with twists on each that had my inner geo-nerd going “NEATO!”. Or do I start with the lore? Which is so cool I doubt I could really do it justice. What about the characters? How do I describe such a pair of badass young women? How do I do explain their strong, believable, unbreakable female friendship?
And mother of god. The pacing. This book opens with a highway robbery gone wrong and manages to maintain that frenetic momentum throughout. The pace it sets is relentless, breakneck. There is NO downtime. Not one scene of filler or info dumping. Every single page is infused with energy, action, and emotion.
Oh, and is that swearing in a YA novel?
Is that sex-positivity in a YA novel?
Wait, these female characters actually have…SELF CONFIDENCE?
They don’t need men to save them?
They don’t let the adults around them dictate their lives?
They put each other above EVERYTHING AND EVERYONE else? Including boys? Including family???
The front door. Go shut it.
So yes. I highly recommend this book. It has singlehandedly restored my faith in Young Adult Fantasy novels, of which I’ve read many and enjoyed…very few. Aside from the strong feminist themes and subtle fuck you to the usual fantasy worlds that revolve around your typical patriarchy, this book includes LGBTQIA representation, diversity, body positivity, and a whole slew of other themes we need to see more of in this genre, which I would name were I not still slightly dizzy and more than a little frazzle-minded thanks to this epic book-high.
I do not, however, recommend reading this in public. Because it contains numerous passages capable of startling ugly laughter out of even the most restrained readers. You know, the kind that just bubbles up out of your mouth unbidden, and for whatever reason – maybe because you forgot you were in public, and it seems like you’ve done something to anger the gods, because these embarrassing outbursts always happen to you in public – it doesn’t sound like your normal laughter, but more like something that might belch forth from a drunken pilot whale’s blowhole?
Yeah, that kind of laughter. Consider yourself warned.